India’s Role in United Nations Reforms
The United Nations since its inception has promoted international cooperation through maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights and fostering social and economic development.
India was a founding member of the United Nations, joining it in October 1945, two years before acquiring independence from the British Raj. By 1946, it had started raising concerns regarding colonialsim, disarmament and racial discriminaton. It stood at the forefront during the UN’s tumultuous years of struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
From early 1947-1948, it took an active part in drafting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights highlighting the need for reflecting gender equality by changing the language of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights from ‘all men are created equal’ to ‘all men and women are created equal’.
In 1953, the chief delegate of India at the time, Vijaya Laxmi Pandit was elected the first woman President of UN General Assembly. India supported the struggle towards global disarmament and the ending of the arms race, and towards the creation of a more equitable international economic order.
Having faced the plight of colonialism for centuries India took a very strong stand on decolonization and the formation of a ‘’’free world’’ where no country is subjugated by the other and every country is allowed to maintain its autonomy and preserve its sovereignty. Through co-sponsoring the landmark 1960 Declaration of UN on Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples which proclaimed the need to unconditionally end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations, India achieved this goal. It was also elected the first chair of the Decolonization Committee where its ceaseless efforts to put an end to colonialism have been lauded.
India was also amongst the most outspoken critics of apartheid and racial discrimination in South Africa. In fact, it was the first country to raise the issue in the UN and played a leading role in the formation of a Sub-Committee against Apartheid set up by the General Assembly. When the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted in 1965, India was among the earliest signatories.
Being the founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 , India cemented its position within the UN system as a leading advocate of the concerns and aspirations of developing countries and the creation of a more equitable international economic and political order.
A major blow to India’s active participation in the United Nations Reforms occurred between 1962-1976 when India faced a war with China following which it became involved in two wars with Pakistan.This was a period of Economic stangation,Political instability and famine like conditions throughout India.Circumstances forced the nation to keep a low profile at the UN and speak only on matters vital to Indian interest.
Soon after the UN’s non proliferation agenda became another irritant that forced India to view some units of the organization with distaste for imposing discriminatory regimes instead of promoting universal disarmament.India’s then external affairs minister Mr. Pranab Mukharjee had commented ‘’If India did not sign the NPT, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but because we consider NPT as a flawed treaty and it did not recognize the need for universal, non-discriminatory verification and treatment.”
India has stressed on the importance of the United Nations as a strong international organization, which should reflect the contemporary global realities. India has been actively working with other like-minded countries for building support of UN membership for a meaningful restructuring and expansion of UNSC. Arguments have been raised that the United Nations Security Council still reflects the geopolitical architecture of the 2nd World War. Even though the number of countries that are members to the United Nations has increased from 113 to 193, the UNSC has been expanded only once that too in 1963 to add 4 non-permanent members. Nations from Africa find no place in permanent membership despite 75% of the UNSC work being focused there.
The Government of India has strongly put forward India’s case for permanent membership to the Security Council, which is based on its extensive contribution to the activities of the UN particularly the maintenance of international peace and security. So far India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions with a total contribution exceeding 160,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel having been deployed. In 2014 India is the third largest troop contributor with 7,860 personnel deployed with ten UN Peacekeeping Missions.
Objective criteria such as population, territorial size, GDP, political system etc. also point towards India’s suitability of permanent membership of the expanded UNSC.
June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2014.
On this day India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Mukherji introduced the draft resolution in UNGA. The draft text received broad support from 177 Member States who adopted the text without a vote.This initiative found support from many global leaders. A total of 175 nations co-sponsored the resolution and had the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any UNGA Resolution of such nature.
India has played a key role in the United Nations reforms. It has been the driving force behind many reforms like the end of colonialism and apartheid. It has always taken a strong stand on issues of national importance and spoken active about those of global importance.